Press-Republican

September 19, 2012

Ready for retirement

Woman, 88,has a long history of employment

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — KEESEVILLE — Anna Rock, 88, luxuriates in the relaxation zone after seven decades of work.

“It’s wonderful, but I miss it,” Rock said of her recent retirement from Wilson Appliance Centers in Plattsburgh. “Nathan (Wilson) has been so good to me.”

Rock first went to work with the company for Nathan’s father, Mike Wilson.

“I used to do the mail and the billing,” Rock said. “Mike got sick and passed away, and Nathan took over the business. I stayed right on with Nathan until I retired a couple of weeks ago. I was there close to 40 years.”

Rock grew up in Dannemora, the daughter of Arthur and Ida Thompson.

“My father was in charge of Ward 5 at Dannemora State Prison. I had three sisters (Isabelle, Helen and Ruthie) and one brother (Richard). They are all deceased,” Rock said.

At Dannemora High School, Rock played basketball.

After graduation, she worked as a waitress.

“I worked for Tommy Finnegan in Cadyville and at the Witherill Hotel,” she said. 

She also worked at Knight Tavern, formerly located next door to the G & G Tire Company in Plattsburgh. She met her husband, Norman Rock, a mechanic at G & G, at the tavern. 

“Then, he went off to war. When he came back, we got married in 1948,” she said.

Three years later, the couple had triplet girls — Brenda, Linda and Norma, but Norma died at birth.

On the girls’ 10th birthday, the G & G Tire Company burnt down, taking with it the popular local tavern next door owned by the Gioiosa family. The Rock family lived in an apartment above the Tire Company.

Knight Tavern was not rebuilt, so Rock started waitressing at the Witherill Hotel owned by the Howell family.

“It was fantastic. I still miss it today. I never got a better education, respect and everything, than I got at the Witherill. It’s too bad they tore it down. Once in awhile, I was hostess. We had a uniform, prim and proper. We wore maroon-colored uniforms, white apron and white shoes. They had to be polished. You got checked when you got in. Those that weren’t neat were sent home,” she said.

During the 350th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain, Mrs. Howell and Rock designed costumes for the staff to wear.

“She made all the costumes. I had to wear pantaloons,” Rock said.

For a decade, Rock ran the Monopole Restaurant. 

“I had great memories. A lot of doctors and state troopers came in. It was just great,” she said.

The Monopole of old was a high-end establishment with a fine-dining room frequented by judges and lawyers. The upstairs was a banquet room for private affairs and dinner meetings.

Rock learned her work ethic as a child.

“We all had our chores,” she said. “This is how I started out. When I went to school, I would go and babysit for people. As time went on, I learned to be waitress.”

Her father died young. Her widowed mother was not well. Her older siblings had a lot of responsibility early on, and she learned from them.

Rock has known her share of trials and tribulations. She and her husband weathered two fires, one the first year they were married in which they lost everything. She has battled cancer twice.

Now, she spends her time playing cards, eating out, watching TV and walking every day. She plans to visit her daughter and granddaughter in Arizona and Chicago, respectively.

Asked what her immediate plans are, Rock said:

“Just loaf around, I guess.”

Email Robin Caudell: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com